Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Soren (voice of Jim Sturgess) is a young owl that loves nothing more than to listen to his father’s stories about an elusive team of winged warriors known as the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. The legends tell of battles fought to free and protect the oppressed. Fully believing these tales are true, the little critter’s greatest goal is to one day soar with his heroes.
On the other hand, his brother Kludd (voice of Ryan Kwanten) thinks the whole noble notion is rubbish. Instead, he has his mind set on learning to fly, hunt and gain the respect of his father, whom he secretly fears favors his younger sibling. Unfortunately his determination to grow up fast gets both boys into trouble after they tumble from the trees onto the ground. Immediately two massive owls pick them up—both are members of a group called the Pure Ones.
Brought back to the gang’s hideaway, the brothers learn of a plan to snatch up owlets from the surrounding areas and turn them into slaves or soldiers. The Pure Ones’ other mysterious activities seem focused on creating a powerful weapon that will overcome all other owl populations and cement their kingdom solidly in control. When Soren unexpectedly gets a chance to escape, he manages to flee the fortress. But now he must find the Great Tree home of the Guardians and ask for their help… that is, if they really do exist.
Based on a series of novels by the same name, this adventure offers a serious tale of good versus evil that is never condescending to its young audience. In fact the greatest concern here may be parents assuming this animation with talking owls is appropriate for virtually any age of child. Not so. Instead this story of difficult choices in loyalty between family and friends is much more appropriate for adolescents, both due to its complexities and the accompanying conflicts. (You can expect a similar level of violence to that found in The Chronicles of Narnia series.)
Many scenes feature birds battling with each other, and some are left with bloody scars as a consequence. Other elements of concern include red-eyed bats that attempt to kill the owls and the process of “moon-blinking” baby owlets (which leaves them with clouded eyes and no memory). Along with the frequent moments of peril, there are implied deaths and one direct attack to a trusted main character who is dragged off to meet his demise.
Offering a surprisingly compelling story with tremendous performances, the porduction is absolutely spectacular with impeccable details on these feathered creatures. The 3D experience is also stellar, with the effect put to very good use during flying sequences. Assuming your owlets are old enough to understand the plot and tolerate the violence, this well crafted adventure’s positive messages and engaging script may leave all of you hooting for more.